Mobile camera rig specialists Motion Impossible, whose equipment was recently used in the hit BBC One series Big Cats, are to move to bigger premises after successfully developing their next generation robotic dolly system.
Set up by BAFTA award winning cameraman Rob Drewett and product design engineer Andy Nancollis in 2014, the company designs and builds mobile vehicles for film cameras and VR for major brands such as Universal Music, Facebook, CNN and GoPro.
With a main office in Iron Acton in South Gloucestershire, last year the company moved its research and development branch to Bristol’s tech and science innovation hub Future Space, which is based on the University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol’s Frenchay campus.
The move enabled Motion Impossible to drive forward the development of its next generation product, Agito. Launched last May, this robotic camera vehicle can make recordable moves on the ground, with interchangeable wheels for use on track or off-road and precise stabilisation for smooth shots.
Motion Impossible’s industry leading buggy camera was recently used to film alongside a sprinting cheetah in the BBC One series Big Cats. The robotic vehicle can accelerate from zero to 30 mph in just three seconds and captures 1000 frames per second.
The company is now bringing its manufacturing, business admin and research and development teams under one roof in order to support further growth.
Rob Drewett, founder and CEO of Motion Impossible, said: “It was great being able to set up a research team at Future Space for a year as it put us in contact with like-minded people and companies. It is attached to Bristol Robotics Laboratory which was vital since the major part of our work is robotics.
“It’s an incubator so there’s lots of good advice and consultants available and useful workshops and seminars on offer which are really helpful to anyone setting up and growing a company.
“Our research base at Future Space has helped us take the next steps as a business.”
Rob met Andy after approaching him as chairman of a local radio controlled (RC) vehicle club to discuss how this technology could be used for filming. The pair decided to work together and within three weeks were building a prototype camera rig for Bristol’s Wildscreen film festival. This generated lots of interest in their product and Motion Impossible was born.
After several months of developing and refining their products, the pair gate-crashed the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam to drive their new MANTIS around the show – this four-wheel drive vehicle, with advanced stabilisation parts, made Motion Impossible the first company to move VR cameras. This had not previously been possible due to the high risk of motion sickness.
After being kicked out of the IBC, their MANTIS attracted enough interest to get them invited back in. Later that year they were asked to film a VR music video for heavy metal stars Megadeath in the US.
They officially launched MANTIS at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas in 2016, and immediately received orders for 10 products.
Motion Impossible now sell their mobile camera technology in 20 countries, from Korea and Thailand to Mexico and the US.
Elaine McKechnie, centre director at Future Space, said: “We’re so pleased to see Motion Impossible taking the next steps as a business.
“One of the key aims of Future Space is to provide a flexible working environment, with great business support, to act as a stepping stone for fast growing young businesses and this is a great example.”